Writer in Residence Programme 2010

Seray Şahiner is WIR in Amsterdam

1-31 January 2010

Seray Şahiner (Bursa, 1984) grew up in Istanbul, where she studied journalism until 2007. Whilst a student she worked for the culture magazine Hayvan and was a member of the editorial staff of the literary magazine Aylak. She also co-published the fanzines Kaygan Zemin and Kara Kutu.

Şahiner has worked as a correspondent for Marie Claire and the newspaper Birgün and has also written television screenplays. In 2006 her short story collection Gelin Başi was distinguished as exceptional at the ceremony of the Yaşar Nabi Nayir Short Story Award. She is currently working as a screenplay writer and correspondent for the Gaste newspaper.

Both Şimşek and Şahiner participated at the Winternachten literature festival in The Hague on January 15. They were interviewed about the Cosmopolitan future of Istanbul. Through exchange programmes and international collaboration the ngo Urban Cosmopolitans wants to explore what it means to have a multiple identity as an artist:

“In major cities in Europe, post-colonial migration together with migration of workers has generated a new, transnational culture that distinguishes itself by its multiple identities. Urban cosmopolitanism is the culture of people who are rooted in the European city, where they have grown up together with migrant children from elsewhere and contributed to the city’s ever increasing diversity.
But they are also connected, through their parents or grandparents, to places and cultures further away. For them, moving to and forth between their two cultures is often also a movement between Europe and non-Europe - or rather Europe as a wider, globalized continent. Our current focus on Istanbul, Amsterdam and Antwerp serves to develop three sub-projects for the occasion of Istanbul 2010 (European Capital of Culture) extending into 2012 (celebration of 400 years of trade relations between Turkey and the Netherlands).”

In retrospect Seray Şahiner wrote about her stay in Amsterdam:

I take Virginia Woolf very seriously when she says that every woman should have a “room of her own if she is to write fiction”. Having your own room means having your own world. When I packed my suitcase and left my own room in Istanbul to spend a month in the Writers Residency in Amsterdam, I apprehensively thought that I would not feel at home in my new surroundings and probably would not be comfortable enough to be able to write there.
When I entered the house all my doubts faded away. Yes, the place was new to me, but it didn’t feel unfamiliar. It was designed and decorated especially to enable guests to write and to listen to themselves; Apparantly a place where you can be alone with yourself never feels unfamiliar. I calmed down and managed to pick up on my writing.
During the daytime I walked the streets of Amsterdam and at night I wrote a story about Istanbul. I am now aware that it’s possible to live in two mindsets, and I will try to maintain my newly found calm once I’ve returned to my hectic daily life in Istanbul.